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Field Trips to the Refuge

Educators leading class on walk of Discovery"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived" (Henry David Thoreau, Walden)
 

Who

 Students Discovering InvertebratesThe Refuge can accommodate roughly 60 students at once or about three classrooms per visit. Best case scenario for large school groups is to divide them into three smaller groups and then rotate through three separate activity stations.

 

What

The activity themes are centered on waterfowl and wetlands and have inside/outside components. Typically, one station is dedicated to waterfowl identification (Oke Room lecture/interactive as to what are and where are waterfowl). A second station details aquatic invertebrates (again, hands-on discovery of plant and animal life that ducks utilize). And the third station is a walk on the Kenai Nature Trail to actually discover, view and experience waterfowl and wetlands.
Equipment on hand for student doing includes spotting scopes, binoculars, hand lens and microscopes. The Refuge also distributes a journal that is a catalyst for experiential learning (akin to multiple intelligences identified by Student Wildlife WatchingHoward Gardner).

 

Where

Most on-site staff-led environmental education programs take place in the area immediately around the Refuge Headquarters because of the proximity of infrastructure: ample parking, the Okefenokee Room, Visitor Center, restrooms, the environmental education shelter, the aquatic education pond, outdoor amphitheater, and the Kenai Nature Trail. These spaces give staff opportunities and flexibility for providing quality, varied environmental education. The Okefenokee Room is especially valuable because of its multimedia capabilities; it functions much like a formal classroom space. The Visitor Center is also important because of the small library of books, natural history displays (including representations of refuge wildlife), Student Hike Discovering Natureinterpretive displays, other environmental education materials. Exhibits are updated to reflect on the season or changing Refuge activities.

 

When

Field trips can by scheduled Mondays through Saturdays 8 am - 4:30 pm. Phone Bob Danley (Outdoor Recreation Planner) 777-5552 x203 or email bob_danley@fws.gov to schedule a field trip for your school or classroom.

 

Why

Students Teaching Students-Mammal SkinsThe goal of environmental education is to foster an awareness and appreciation of the importance of protecting the natural and cultural resources of the refuge, the Bitterroot Valley, and the National Wildlife Refuge System. To achieve this, refuge-specific curriculum is being developed for use online (social media, blog, Web site) to include interactive educational opportunities and help teachers plan field visits.
In the meantime, it is essential to help today’s children (tomorrow’s land stewards) become aware of the natural world and how they can protect and restore it. Today, many students learn about their natural world online, through books, or highly structured programs. These methods do provide educational benefits, but it is also effective simply to allow students an opportunity for exploration and discovery. Refuge programs must not be so rigid that children cannot learn by using their own imaginations and senses.
Let us know your needs to improve the quality of your classroom's field trip experience.
 

Last Updated: Mar 12, 2014
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